I fear for the Bleat this week. I would write a blistering indictment of my own inertia if I had the energy. I’d also open myself up to people insisting I was using “inertia” wrong; I really meant sloth, indolence, laziness, lack of brio, thesaurus dependence, and so on. But absolutely nothing that’s coming out of the tips of my fingers is interesting at all, to me. I suppose everyone has periods where they're going through the motions. Even brain surgeons. You have two choices: stop and wait for Inspiration to flood back into your system like the breath of some beneficent celestial patron, or B) plow through the hard dirt and just write, because that’s what you do. Truck drivers never say “I can’t shift into fourth today. Just not feeling it.”
Last night during novel writing time I did not write. I read. I read with ever-growing delight, to be honest - not because what I was reading was so fargin’ spectacular, but because it all held together. It worked. The great connect-the-dots scene is always the tough one in a novel; someone has to explain, and there are few moments in life where everything is explained. So it’s already unnatural. This weekend I listened to an audio adaptation of “The Big Sleep,” which is quite different in book form than the movie, as I recall. Marlowe has to spell it out at some point, and even though I’d been listening for an hour and a half, I found myself nodding my head while thinking “huh?” It didn’t matter. You come away with One Guy Who Pretty Much Did That Thing and then a range of subordinate nastiness, all tied together with moments like this:
“It was Terwilliger who bothered me, because there wasn’t any reason for him to knock off Jackson when Jackson wasn’t even connected to the rare books, let alone the airplane that went into the lake after Burt Master’s wife disappeared. But when I realized Master’s wife wasn’t his wife at all, but a carefully trained Shetland pony, and Terwilliger was up to his neck in black-market oats, it all started to come together.”
Like that. Well, there’s a scene in “Autumn Solitaire” that serves as the great summation, and I was so pleased with it the only question was whether I’d set it in Baskerville or Cochin. One more chapter to tweak, then one - more - run through, just to check for continuity, and she’s done. There’s a bit of trickery at the end, the casual comment that splits everything wide open, but hey. Drama.
Speaking of breaking things wide open: I don’t think that phrase means what I think. Or you think. To me it’s always meant a revelatory moment that provided a sudden cool gust of clarity. I’ve heard it used in 50s radio show to mean the point at which new information casts everything else into utter confusion and doubt. If I’m using it as it’s understood, that’s another example of a piece of slang whose meaning was turned around 180, like “Glorified.”
Do I have to explain that again? Okay. The term pops up from the 40s through the late 50s in ads: such-and-such a product will glorify your hair; this baking powder will glorify your biscuits; etc. It meant “imbue them with a grand quality that exceeds expectations.” When I came to know the term it was used sarcastically: something that was overhyped was a Glorified (x). If the old usage said “glorify your ham sandwiches with mustard,” the new usage said “this is just a glorified bologna sandwich.” The term was used to demean the subject of glorification and the very act of glorifying.”
LATER Powering through the trough worked. Wrote a long column tonight. Have earned my keep on the right side of the dirt. Now to watch “House of Cards” and be appalled. But of course there’s more below.
Oh: one more thing. I mentioned we had a lot of snow. This is what has to go. Random downtown street:
You can tell the era right away by the typeface and the design and the fact that it’s just words on a flat surface: the Forties. It would be a while before credits were anything else. We’re used to kinetic credit sequences now, but for years they didn’t do much except spell it out.
You know, a lot of problems would be solved if he just killed Dirkin. It’s Dirkin this and Dirkin that. Without Dirkin Vulcan would be talking to himself up in his secret HQ with the enormous radio masts.
Let's revisit how he stormed the truck:
So how did he escape the truck that had been lovingly prepared as a death trap? He shook off the concussion in 3 seconds and jumped out, like everyone knew he would.
Back at the no-longer-secret lab site which has nevertheless remained unmolested by Vulcan’s gang, the reporter guy, - I think he’sa reporter; I also suspect he’s really Dr. Vulcan, catches Rocketman in the very private act of molting:
hey start talking about how this all started, and the camera goes out of focus - the dismaying sign that this is a flashback episode so everyone can catch up.
As the fellows sit around the lab-cave in suits with ties, enjoying a pipe, they ruminate about the way nonsense science might be employed to find the Decimator:
Then Dr. Vulcan hatches a new plan with Henchman Dirkin: Jeff will be lured into down on a matter of vital importance! But his tire’s flat, so he takes a cab - which Vulcan has rigged up to be a DEATH TRAP. The dreaded remote control cab! Poison gas is an option on those models, but Vulcan bought the full package:
No one thought it looked odd; could have been a heavy smoker with a cold:
Even considering it's a flashback recap ep, it's a pretty lame cliffhanger:
Strib blog in short form in the morn; Tumblr, of course. See you around!